Raven-Symoné says it best: "I was born on TV." After spending years on the small screen and taking on movie and singing projects, she's tackling Broadway in "Sister Act."
The 26-year-old actress got her start very early. She starred alongside Bill Cosby on "The Cosby Show" when she was just 3 years old. After that came movies, a record deal and even her own Disney sitcom, "That’s So Raven."
Now, Raven-Symoné is stepping into a leading Broadway role in the stage adaptation of "Sister Act." She spoke to The Huffington Post about her varied career, being a role model and all the attention surrounding her weight loss.
How did you land the lead in "Sister Act"?
The producers approached my manager. I was driving on a freeway in LA about to go on vacation and they were like, "They want you to do this," and I was like, "OK, I love the movie." I hadn’t seen the play yet, but I knew Whoopi Goldberg was involved so it had to reflect the movie, and I am very happy I said yes blindly.
How old were you when you started on "The Cosby Show"?
I was 3. I was born on TV. I just feel like my upbringing is my upbringing. It was just my way of growing up. I went to public school. I didn’t go to college, but that’s because I was working.
Did the other kids at school give you a hard time?
Yeah, it took me a while to make friends because of some things. But after a minute I had my friends and that’s all that was necessary. In school, I was happy to get fifth billing in a choral competition. I was more excited with that than getting [a part in] "Dr. Doolittle" because it was something new for me.
Were you amazed at how much press you got for losing weight?
I’m not amazed. It was kind of irritating, because I didn’t really do it to get attention. I didn’t really do it on purpose. It happened, and I don’t really like talking about it that much. I believe you should be comfortable in your skin no matter what you go through -- emotionally or whatever -- as long as you’re healthy. It was just a lot for me. I really didn’t like it.
We’re in a society based on beauty. We have fast-food commercials followed by a [weight-loss] commercial, so I can understand the fascination. The way we function in society -- it doesn’t make sense sometimes because it’s all based on how you look and then how badly you should feel after you eat the food we just advertised. And then when someone in the public eye goes up or down, it’s like a major moment.
It’s that and the reality shows and who is dating who. I really don’t care who you’re dating. I think you should date quietly so you don’t look crazy when you go from person to person.
So you won’t be on the cover of a weekly magazine with your new boyfriend?
No one will ever know. It’s nobody’s business.
You’ve been working since you were a kid. Ever say, "I’m tired, I need a break?"
I say that every day. After my tour and "That’s So Raven," the weight came off because I stopped stressing. I’m the kind of person -- I stress and gain weight. I was really stressed throughout my whole life and then I did take a break. I lost weight and I got right back into the stress race. Hopefully I’ll be taking another break again soon.
Do you feel you have a responsibility as a role model to look or act a certain way?
I have a responsibility to not look crazy in public. I don’t want to be the person where later in life when I have kids, to say, "Don’t do this," and my kids go, "But Mom you did it." I’m not perfect. This is how I was raised. If I wasn’t in the industry, I’d be the same person.
What do you do on Monday nights when you don’t work?
I love "The Bad Girls Club." I love "Mob Wives." Thank you for being on my TV. You’re absolutely crazy. I can’t do it. That’s not my thing.
You have unique eyebrows.
They grow upside down. I waxed them and tried to make them look normal. My eyebrows are now back to the way they were. I had to grow into them. Some people have to grow into their quirkiness. I had to grow into my eyebrows.